Using everyday playing cards, your students can learn how to compare fractions, while also playing a fun, competitive game!
To begin playing Fraction War, take out all of the face cards from a deck of playing cards. We also have cards for Fraction War included in the Fraction Envelope Book if you don’t want to get a bunch of decks of cards.
The goal of Fraction War is to win all of the cards in the deck before your opponent (or, if you are playing with a time limit, to end up with the most cards).
How to Play Fraction War
- Shuffle and deal the cards so that each player has half the deck.
- Each player keeps their cards face down. At the same time, both players turn the top two cards of their deck over, and place them one over the other to create a fraction. In the Fraction Envelope Book we include a ‘game board’ that students can use to arrange their cards.
- The player with the greater fraction wins all of the cards on the board. They will then collect the cards and place them in a new pile to the side of the pile they are currently drawing from. If at any point they run out of cards in their current pile, they will shuffle their collected cards and begin a new pile.
- If at any point in the game the fractions are equivalent, the players go to WAR! Each player places the next three cards from the top of their deck face down near the board saying “This means war!” Then they draw the next two cards from the top of their pile and arrange them into the biggest fraction they can. The player with the biggest fraction then wins all of the cards including the 4 cards from the original, equivalent fractions, the 3 cards laid by each player before the final fractions, and the 4 cards that made up the final WAR fractions. That means that by winning the WAR, the winning student will get to add 14 cards to their pile!
- Play continues until one student runs out of cards or is unable to make a fraction. If using a time-limit, at the end of the time-limit, students will count up how many cards they have, and the student with the most cards wins the war!
Other Suggestions and Options
As with all games, you can vary the rules a little to make it work for your students and their ability level.
- If you want to make the game more challenging you can keep the face cards in the deck and assign each face card a point value (Jacks = 11, Queens =12, Kings = 13).
- To make the game easier, give students a stack of numerator cards and a stack of denominator cards. This will allow you to pick and choose which denominators your students are working with. You can use this option to work on just a few denominators at a time. An easy way to do this is by using decks with different colored backs. One color will be used for numerator cards and a different color will be used for denominator cards.
- Students can play in groups of three if needed. Simply shuffle the cards and deal them out to 3 students instead of two. Game play will continue as planned except that all three students will provide a fraction each time. If any equivalent fractions come up in the game, only the students with the equivalent fractions participate in the game of War to decide who wins.
- Ask students to document their Fraction War on a sheet of paper or on their whiteboards, so you can double check that their fraction comparisons were actually correct.
- If you are feeling ambitious, create a fraction comparison chart for all of the possible card combinations, and put it somewhere in the room where students can access it if they need to check their comparisons.
Fraction War is a fun game that students can play quickly. It doesn’t take long to set up especially if you are using the Fraction Envelope Books while learning about fractions. If you use the envelope books, then your students will have everything they need to play fraction war right at their finger tips!
For more ideas for ways to work on fractions in the classroom, check out this blog post!